Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster

Greetings Archivists!

 First of all, a big thank you!

+ Hits in under 2 Months... I am blown away.

Though I am on vacation right now, I thought I should celebrate this with you in giving you finally my review on Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster.

but first a
I am sold on this game. As you might have seen, my recent hobby activities have been all about this game.
Nonetheless I will try to be objective where I must and as honest as I can. On the one hand, because there is no use in praising this game in all its glory and giving people the wrong impression, i don't want to sell this game. On the other hand, people who are interested in this game, might see a picture of what to expect.

So. Here we go...
1. Layout
You can tell from the first look, that there have been people at work here, that know their business. The layout of the Rulebook, the tokens, the box itself, the cards... all of it, looks awesome, crisp and clean. A joy to the eye imho is the difference between the Vanguard-Section and the Strain-Section in the Rulebook. The Strains-Section having a black background ect. ... It is small things that show the love that went into this.

You can tell from the layout, that some designs (i.e. certain tokens) have been altered during the process of making this game. Another thing that could have made the rulebook even better, would have been the use of the great sketches that were made for the miniatures to give the pages a little variation.

2. Miniatures
I don't know where to start. When the first strain concepts (long before the kickstarter) hit the nets,me and my shadow council were breathless. These ideas where the stuff out niddy-nightmares were made of. Chestmounted weapons, tentacles, brutal appearance and carapace everywhere made our cold hearts quicken. When the miniatures hit the shelves, we were somewhat disappointed, since we couldn't use the miniatures as count as for our nid-armies. But back then I didn't had the grand picture.
Design-wise, these guys are all I had been dreaming about. The Vanguard, technically advanced humans (no more "hey I got a lasrifle... that has to be better than a torch") without the clerical flair we know from the Space Marines. And the Strain, once you have overcome the picture of a Hivetyrant and a Necron Lord trying to get offspring, is pure genius in itself. All the designs we love in other systems and games (multiple eyes, tentacles, big shiny guns, zombies... I could go on forever) combined in a hand full of  monsters.
The details are carried by the material (restic= resin+plastic as I will call it from now on) very well and the mold were cut with the user in mind, so the casting tubes are placed on the miniature were it doesn't harm any detail. A huge Pro on the Restic side is the "Hot Water Trick". Since the material will bend in heat (and, when heated again, will bend back to its original shape, so bending means no loss in detail) you can achieve pretty easily alternative models without swinging the conversion-hammer. This comes in pretty handy when it comes to the countless techno-zombies on the strain side. But this trick can also be used to get a better fit on the Vanguard weapons arms.

So, where are the cons on this point. After so much praise... are there any one? Well, there are.
You have to pay for the benefits the Restic comes with. First of when trying to rid you models of mold lines.
Since you can't simply scrap or sand them away as you would do with plastic, you actually have to cut them away. There are spots on the models where it can get quite tricky to do that, without harming the models. And it takes way longer. The restic can't be glued with plastic glue ( I really don't care, since I pin and glue everything with superglue anyway.... but some people might find that irritating) and the miniatures are not put together easily. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing you can do wrong with a one piece necroform (and there are tons of them...) but it can get a bit fiddly when your are putting together your first vanguard and never have heard of the hot water trick (which also works with a halogen-lamp.... just don't burn your fingers). Finally, I am putting this here just for the record, there is not much of variation model wise. I know this is crying on a high level (and I convert most of my models anyway), but when you realise, that it looks like a certain thrilling music-video from the so-called king of pop when all your nerco-forms are standing in a line...
hmm... NEXT!

3. The Game
This time I start with this first, since it will be a short run. The only criticism I have to make is the following point. The rules could have used a little more work. Some things aren't explained properly (sometimes corps-counters can be destroyed, sometimes not... o.O) ect.
Luckily there is an easy solution to all the problems you might encounter: The friendly and awesome people of the Board:

First of all, it is not Warhammer. Please, don't get me wrong, I LOVE my 40k, but after more than 15 years of Warhammer and 40k (aside from some occasional Necromunda and Space Hulk) this is the first game I have ever played aside from the old known. and it is like diving into a whole new world. No one can use the rules to his advantage, because no one knows them. It is like the time I got my first Box of 40k and me and my brother were trying to grasp the enormous amount of information. And like back then, my first game of SW:BfA was accompanied by sentences like "Do we need this rule?" "No, I guess we will be fine without it....", only to see that this rule had meant the difference between victory and defeat.
Aside from these emotional aspects, I really like the rules as a game. You can easily understand the ideas, the designers had in mind. The game plays like watching your favourite SciFi-Movie. Fast, complex, with tons of possibilities, without giving you an overdose.
Game wise the Vanguard has to think about every movement, because it can easily be your last, but when it come to shooting, they are like the heroes in all the good movies. The enemy's simply burst into pieces... with a big, wet *splurch*  You also have to use every ability and all the dirty tricks you have to survive the horrors that await you.
The strain is as phenomenal as the other side. In games like Space Hulk, you simply need an opponent to shoot apart. But the strain comes in different. To achieve your goals (mostly in infecting or killing the troopers) you have to get a hang on the "micro-management" the strain provides. Morphing, infecting and organising is as important as shooting and hacking.
All in all, the idea of models morphing into other, more evolved forms translates pretty well into the game and opens great possibilities.
Finally a word on the phases. I found it highly entertaining to be confronted with a new type of phasing in the game. While I am used to plan my moves (like in 40k), move my models, role the dice, end my turn and wait for the opponent to tear my army apart, the sedition Wars Rule Set forces me to be active and awake all the time. The difference is in "Active" and "Reflex". During the "Reflex Phase" (which is supposed to be the passive one) I am still part of the game, still moving, shooting or acting and not laying back or getting another beer.

4. Conclusion
8 of 10 Tentacles
This game is not for beginners. You need to have some experience in tabletop or complex strategic games and experience in making models and painting them. If you have that and you are into SciFi this game is for you. Fast, fun, bloodly, like a PC-Game on boardtiles... and with lots and lots of potential for more!

That's it for now!
See you next time.

1 comment:

  1. Your embrace of SW is reminding me a lot of how a few of my friends and I got into Warzone about ten years ago. It was new & different and just plain refreshing - I'm glad you're enjoying SW! It's always good to work with new ideas; it keeps a person creative.

    Cheers, Hydra!